Canada’s successful economy is good for business. And as businesses nourish, so does the need to find employees to meet the demand. This is evidenced by the low unemployment rate of 5.7%, particularly among young workers. Canada often relies on foreign talent to grow a strong national workforce, but you’ll need relevant skills and experience to qualify. The country offers several job opportunities in various exciting fields, excellent quality of life, and promises competitive salaries. Despite being a popular destination for expats, the Canadian job market can be a bit complicated for foreigners to navigate. This text will gain you some insights that will help you in your job search in this country.
So, what is the average salary in Canada? How much do Canadians earn? The average gross salary (including transport, housing, and other benefits) for employees across the country is $9,815/month, $56.38 an hour, or $117,635 a year. Given that these are just averages, the highest-paid employees make more than three times these amounts while the lowest earners make less than half.
Foreign workers require a work permit to work in Canada. There are, however, a few exceptional circumstances resulting from Foreign Trade Agreements where foreigners may be allowed to work there without a work permit. That being said, there are several different types of work permits, depending on an individual’s work scenario or situation. Therefore, make sure you find a solution that will meet your needs. Once you understand the official requirements for working in Canada, it’s important to understand what the Canadian job market has to offer before relocating. In this text, I will go over all the useful information about working and living in Canada so you can make an informed decision. Keep reading!
Average Salary in Canada
Salaries in Canada have risen in the past few years and show no signs of slowing down. It’s important to note that what you will earn will likely be affected by a number of things. Understanding the average salaries in all these spheres will help you come up with a more precise figure of what you might earn working in Canada. This information will help jobseekers to negotiate better for their salaries, employees to know if they’re getting paid well, and students so they can gain skills that will be most valued.
Average salary comparison by occupation
The job title is one of the most important factors determining one’s salary. Naturally, highly skilled workers earn more than unskilled workers. Some of the highest paying occupations include specialist physician, dentist, petroleum engineers, university professors, judges, pilots, and so on. People in these occupations make an average salary of $86.75 an hour.
On the lower-paying list, there are bartenders, cashiers, waiter/waitresses, harvesting labourers, hairstylists, and barbers just to name a few. Workers in these jobs earn an average of $13.00 an hour. The good news for this group is your hourly wages aren’t everything. Majority of them receive tips as well, which greatly increase their income. For wait staff and bartenders in high-end establishments, a greater portion of their revenue will come from gratuities rather than their actual pay.
Here’s a list of popular jobs in Canada and their average gross monthly salaries:
- Accountant – $76,567
- Financial manager – $19,768
- Internal auditor – $9,536
- Administrative assistant – $5,340
- Receptionist – $5,102
- Graphic designer – $5,102
- Flight attendant – $8,422
- Pilot – $11,485
- Architect – $8,910
- Teacher – $7,587
- Project manager – $11,207
- Nanny – $5,903
- Civil engineer – $8,700
- Mechanical engineer – $9,884
- General Manager – $17,889
- Chief executive officer – $21,717
- Dentist – $22,274
- Attorney – $14,617
- Pharmacist – $10,789
- Cashier – $5,325
Salary comparison by region
Just because salaries have grown on a national level doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in each territory/region is making the same amount. After all, different regions have different economic growth rates and cost of living, both of which play a huge role in determining wages. The average salaries remain high in territories with traditionally strong economies such as Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia with average gross salaries reaching $131,556, $125,988, and $128,772 per month, respectively. High average salaries can also be found in the Northwest and Nunavut Territories, which are dominated by the energy sector. On the other hand, some of the lowest-paying territories include Prince Edward Island, Yukon, and Newfoundland-Labrador.
In addition to these two, several other factors determine what employees earn. Some include your employer, industry/sector, level of education, working experience, seniority and so on. Naturally, the higher the level of education, years of working experience, and/or position in the company, the higher your wage will be. As for your employer, a multinational company is more likely to offer a bigger salary than a small local business owner.
Canada Average Income per Person
The average income per person is used to determine the economic well-being of a country. It is, therefore, calculated as GDP per capita. Canada’s GDP per capita is recorded every year and it reached $45,447.208 in June 2019. This is a slight drop from the previous year’s value of 46,436.537 USD. Even with this value, Canada is still one of the countries in the world with the highest GDP per capita, which is a good sign of its economic well-being.
Minimum Wage in Canada
Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer is legally allowed to pay an employee. Under the Canadian constitution, the power to enact and enforce labour laws rests fully on the ten provinces and the three territories in Canada. This power was granted by the federal legislation. Each region reviews its current minimum wage rate every year and decides on whether to increase it or keep it as it is based on inflation, unemployment rates, the political environment, and happenings in other jurisdictions. That being said, here’s a look at the current minimum wages in each of the 13 regions:
- Alberta – C$15.00
- British Columbia – C$13.85 (Expected to go up to up to C$14.60 in 2020 and then to C$15.20 in 2021)
- Manitoba – C$11.65
- New Brunswick – C$11.50 (Expected to rise by 20 cents in 2020)
- Newfoundland & Labrador – C$11.40 (Will rise to $11.65 in April 2020, then to $12.15 in October the same year)
- Northwest Territories – C$13.46
- Nova Scotia – C$11.55 (Will go up by $1.00 in April 2020)
- Nunavut – C$13.00
- Ontario – C$14.00
- Prince Edward Island – C$12.25 (Expected to increase to C$12.85 in 2020)
- Quebec – C$12.50 (Expected to rise to C$13.10 as of May 2020)
- Saskatchewan – C$11.32
- Yukon – C$12.71: Expected to rise to C$13.71 in 2020
Although most workers are paid based on the general minimum wage rates set by their jurisdiction, there are a few categories of employees that are governed by different acts or regulations. Others may fall into a different wage category based on their types such as workers with a disability, home workers, young workers, live-in-care workers, and farm labourers. Some of the regions that have set different minimum wages for these categories of employees include:
- Alberta (student under 18): C$13.00
- British Columbia (liquor servers): C$12.70
- Ontario (liquor server, a student under 18, and home workers): C$12.20, C$13.15, and C$15.40 respectively
- Manitoba (security guards): C$12.50
- Québec (If gratuities apply): C$10.05
- Nova Scotia (Inexperienced workers): C$11.05
Exemptions from the basic minimum wage rates
Some category of employees may be excluded from the general minimum wage coverage based on their class of work. Self-employed workers, independent contractors, registered apprentices, students in training programs and specific internships, commission-only salespersons, supervisory and managerial employees, and some members/students of designated professions are usually excluded.
Be sure to check your province’s/territory’s laws to know what category you fall under
Canada Income Distribution
When you think about your income, do you feel rich, poor, or in the middle? Most of us have the wrong idea, or on idea at all, of how we compare with the rest of the population. In this section, I’m going to cover income distribution in Canada, which is basically how the country’s total income is distributed amongst its population so you understand the kind of lifestyle you can afford with your salary.
First off, salaries in this country typically range from an average minimum gross of $1,323/month to an average maximum gross of $43,295/month. Considering these are just average salaries, it means that some are earning less than $1,323/month while others earn more than $43,295/month. This is already a huge disparity, showing that there’s an unequal distribution of income in Canada. The median gross salary is recorded at about $9,188, which divides the income distribution into two equal groups –one half earning more while the other half earning less than this amount.
Closely related to the median salary are the percentiles. Statistics show that only 25% of the working population earns more than a gross salary of $24,710/month as the remaining 75% earn less than that. Less than 7% of the country’s population is earning more than $69,600/month, which is about seven times the national average and median salaries. Meanwhile, some people are earning the minimum wage, which is about $8.79/hour.
There’s also uneven income distribution by region. The highest-income earners are mostly located in Alberta, NW territories, and in Ontario. Meanwhile, the poorest population is mostly found in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI. In terms of census metropolitan areas, over half of the top 1% income earners live in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.
Canada Job Market
Understanding the Canadian job market will help know where you’re more likely to find work. Generally, this job market is similar to that in other developed countries. For starters, the majority of the jobs are found in the service sector, followed by manufacturing and natural resources sectors. The labour force participation rate was last recorded in February 2020 at 65.5% while the unemployment rate is 5.7%.
There are many employment opportunities in Canada for foreigners, especially those applying for jobs that are in the Canada occupation in-demand list. This includes engineers, chemists, scientists, architects, web designers and developers, IT specialists, licensed nurses, secondary school teachers, water/oil and gas well drillers, athletes, management jobs, and so on. This list is quite long so check it out online. If you’re looking for temporary positions, there are many in the country, including au pair positions, seasonal agricultural work, office administration, in hospitality (hotels, bars, restaurants), and so on.
The main industries in Canada are manufacturing, energy, real estate, communications, as well as service (retail business and health in particular). These industries are major employers in Canada.
Majority of the country’s economic growth is concentrated in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver. As such, these regions offer more employment opportunities for foreigners and locals than in other regions. On the other hand, unemployment is highest in the Atlantic Provinces like PEI and Newfoundland-Labrador.
Qualifications and skills
First off, foreigners must possess a Canadian work permit before they can be allowed to work in Canada. This is only possible if you have a job offer. A prospective employer can help you with that but they’ll have to prove that hiring a foreigner will not affect the Canadian labour market negatively.
Qualifications are weighted differently depending on the job. If you’re looking for a well-paying position, you must be highly skilled and possess a university/college degree. Good command of the English language is also essential although English-French bilinguals are more appreciated.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.